Mount Union College Hosts Overseas Educational Advisers

April 15, 2010


Mount Union College was selected as a host institution for a recent visit of two overseas educational advisers spending three weeks in the United States to gain a broader understanding of the U.S. educational system.

Mount Union was chosen for the campus residency component of the U.S. Based Training Program, a cooperative venture of the Department of State and NAFSA: The Association of International Educators. The advisers, Cecile Imboua-Niava of Abidjan, the Ivory Coast and Elena Lugovaya of Samara, Russia, spent a week on the Mount Union campus learning about admissions policies, financial aid procedures and advising services as well as observing campus and academic life.

"We are very honored to have been chosen for this program," said Tonya Pieczarka, director of international admissions for Mount Union College. "There are sixteen overseas advisers involved with this program, and for us to have the opportunity to host two of the sixteen is wonderful."

Cecile Imboua-Niava is an English teacher at the School of Law at the University of Cocody in Abidjan. She is the cultural affairs assistant in the Public Affairs Section at the American Embassy-Abidjan in Cote d'Ivoire. She has ten years experience in advising. Her center provides a full range of services for all sponsored and non-sponsored

students seeking information about educational opportunities.

Elena Lugovaya is director of Education Information Center of Volga Humanitarian Foundation in Samara, Russia. She has worked as an adviser in Samara for five years. In 1995 she started to work for the Soros Foundation in Samara as a coordinator of international programs and in 1997 helped to establish the Advising Center, which is now independent of the Soros Foundation.

The overseas advisers spend three weeks in the United States. The advisers first week in the United States was spent in Washington D.C., gaining a broader understanding of U.S. higher education. The second week was spent on college and university campuses throughout the United States. The third week brings participants to a NAFSA conference.

During their week at Mount Union College, the advisers were able to meet with admission representatives, the financial aid department, those involved with study abroad and international student affairs as well as with Mount Union College President John L. Ewing. The advisers attended classes on campus, enjoyed meals with various hosts in the Alliance area and even attended a Mount Union College football game. They toured an area schools including Stark State College of Technology and Kent State University. In addition to being pleased about the information they gathered, the advisers had many comments regarding the educational opportunities available in the United States, as well as the very different teaching style they witnessed.

"The teaching style is more relaxed here," said Imboua-Niava, after attending classes at Mount Union. "The students are expected to participate, and you have the sense that the students and professor are working together."

"We were pleasantly surprised by all of the schools we toured," said Lugovaya. "The schools were huge, and they have so many facilities available for the students such as the laboratories and equipment."

"We could not have imagined the proportions," added Imboua-Niava.

The advisers were impressed with the facilities available to Mount Union College students. "Once the students are enrolled on campus, everything they need is available to them," said Imboua-Niava.

During the week on campus, the advisers also attended an Association of International Students meeting, and international students helped serve as their campus guides. An open reception was held for the advisers with faculty, staff and students. Many members of the Mount Union campus attended to welcome the advisers to campus.

After spending the week on the Mount Union campus, the advisers traveled to the NAFSA conference, which allowed additional training on international education as well as networking opportunities. Overall, the advisers expressed how much they enjoyed their time at Mount Union College and how helpful the experience had been in expanding their understanding of the US educational system.

"This has been an excellent opportunity," said Lugovaya. "Advisers who have not had this kind of training would find it very beneficial ."

"We get a lot of questions from our students interested in studying in the U.S.," said Imboua-Niava. "We have been able to relay these questions to the appropriate people while we are here so that we can give these students accurate answers."

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